As coronavirus spread around the world in February, Google decided to ban most nongovernmental advertising about the outbreak in an effort to defeat misinformation, fraud and scams. But Democrats say the Google ban does something else: It allows the Trump administration to run ads promoting its response to the crisis while denying Democrats the chance to run ads criticizing it.
Prominent Democratic PACs in recent days have funneled millions of dollars into television ads accusing Trump of mishandling the coronavirus crisis. But staffers of several Democratic nonprofits and digital ad firms realized this week that they would not be able to use Google's dominant ad tools to spread true information about President Trump's handling of the outbreak on YouTube and other Google platforms. The company only allows PSA-style ads from government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and trusted health bodies like the World Health Organization. Multiple Democratic and progressive strategists were rebuked when they tried to place Google ads criticizing the Trump administration's response to coronavirus, officials within the firms told Protocol.
"We're in the middle of the defining event of this election and potentially a generation," said Mark Jablonowski, the chief technology officer and managing partner of DSPolitical, a top digital ad firm that works with Democratic campaigns and progressive causes.